We often hear about digitalization as an important initiative for organizations today, but while there is widespread agreement on its importance, there’s less clarity around what digitalization means. So harmonizing terminology is a good place to start.
Digitalization may be described as the conversion of a business process from entirely or partially manual to entirely digital—for example, automating processes or workflows.
Begin with easy projects.
Digitalization can provide many quick wins in cost and time savings and morale improvements while an organization formulates a more comprehensive digital transformation strategy. Simply implementing a digital document-signing system or adopting cloud-based tools for co-authoring documents are examples.
Eliminate manual steps in repetitive processes.
Beyond these simple and fairly universal examples, the best places to look for digitalization opportunities are wherever you have routine or repetitive processes.
It's not difficult to decide which business processes are good candidates for digitalization. The more there is repetitive manual work involved, and the more time that manual work requires, costs financially and contributes to frustration, boredom and inaccuracies, the more likely that the business process is a candidate for digitalization.
How do you sell and socialize digitalization projects?
Ideas are great, but they also need to gain traction and support to be realized. It’s important to have a culture in which ideas can be communicated as they arise.
While a supportive culture is important, it’s equally important to refine and communicate the idea and its benefits on a single page to avoid the “too long didn’t read” problem and to have a simple document to socialize with a wider audience beyond a manager. Senior management is bound to be receptive to a good idea that can improve a process and provide benefits such as time and cost savings.
Digitalization involves iteration.
As with most digital initiatives, version one is a considerable achievement, but it’s only the beginning. It’s important to meet with internal and external clients and colleagues and listen to their thoughts about how a digitalization project is going. There usually is room for improvement, and digital technology should make it easy to modify a process.
The end game is insights from data.
Ultimately, data needs to be rapidly transformed into information and insights. Beyond digitalizing and improving business processes, you must leverage the insights and analytics that digitalization offers. Artificial intelligence can harness data, tell its story and help you make faster, better decisions. Like eliminating manual work in a process, AI does the hard work of evaluating and interpreting, so that you can quickly gain insights and act accordingly.
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